Bagawat Geeta, Class 34 – Chapter 2 Summary


Swamiji offered a summary of chapter 2. The chapter is divided into four parts:

1.     Shlokas 1-10: Arjuna’s Sharanagati
2.     Shlokas 11-38: Gyana Yoga Part
3.      Shlokas 39-58: Karma Yoga Part
4.     Shlokas 54-72: Sthita Pragyaha Part

He summarized each topic.
Shlokas 1-10, Arjuna Sharanagati.

This was a continuity of chapter 1 where Arjuna discovered the problems of Samsara in the oddest place, the battlefield. Raga, Shoka and Moha are the problems associated with Samsara. Raga is attachment, a human problem and while it varies from individual to individual, it is also a universal problem. Arjuna discovers it with intensity in the battlefield. With attachment comes sorrow or Vishadha. I don’t want to lose any thing I am attached to. Any loss, actual or imaginary, I am not able to withstand. Arjuna was intensely attached to Bhishma, Drona and others. He is unable to handle even the imaginary loss of these people close to him and this is called Shokaha. Once the mind is
caught in Raga and Shoka it loses its capacity to discriminate between Dharma and Adharma. Incapacity to decide what is the right course of action in a given situation sets in. This lack of capacity to discriminate is called Mohaha. Thus Raga, Shoka and Moha together are known as Samsara. Arjuna discovers this problem and also tries to solve it. Arjuna even gives Sri Krishna a lecture on his solution to the problem. He feels fighting is Adharma and wants to run away from the battlefield. Sri Krishna allows Arjuna to express himself.

In chapter 2 Arjuna’s dilemma is continued. He has not yet surrendered himself to Sri Krishna as such Sri Krishna keeps quiet. Then, Arjuna feels Karpanya Dosha, feeling helplessness and only then surrenders to Sri Krishna. He is like a drowning person who finds Sri Krishna to hold on to. The surrender has to be real and from the heart.  Arjuna
has to empty his mind in this process so that Sri Krishna can fill it up with wisdom. A Sanyasi shaving his head is a symbol of removing one’s false notions. Arjuna, the Yajamana, now becomes Arjuna, the Shishya. Sri Krishna also changes roles from the Partha Sarthy to Gita Upadesha Jagat Guru. Gyani becomes a Guru because of his Shishya;
hence Shashtanga namaskaram is practiced. It shows emptiness of his mind and his humility. An arrogant intellect will find it extremely difficult to do namaskara and Arjuna is the most arrogant person in the world because he is a Kshatriya, a Dhananjaya with many names, glories, wealth, position and beauty and wives; Arjuna is such a person but he surrenders. So, Arjuna now asked for knowledge.

Shlokas 11-38: Gyana Yoga

From these shlokas the Gita teaching now starts. This is the main theme of chapter 2. Shlokas 11-25 are very important as they convey the essence of Upanishads. Gyana Yoga or Samkhya Yoga is the theme. The gist of these shlokas is that Sri Krishna discusses the nature of the individual. Who am I, is being discussed. Unfortunately, we do not have a clear understanding of ourselves. While we study many things, we never study ourselves. Sri Krishna shows we are not the physical body. This is our biggest misconception. The second mistake we make is thinking “I am the mind”. This body is only a temporary dress that we discard at death. Even in deep sleep we still exist but don’t function through the physical body. At that time the body and mind are set aside. They are like one’s spectacles (glasses) that are removed before going to bed. So, if I am not the body or the mind, then who am I? I am the consciousness principle, Chaitanyam. What is this consciousness? Describing it, Sri Krishna says:

  1. It is not part of body, nor product of body and not even a property of the body.
  2. It is the independent identity that permeates and enlivens this body.
  3. Its capacity to permeate, enliven and illuminate is not limited to just one body.
  4. Its capacity extends beyond the boundaries of this body and it continues to exist even after the body collapses.

Explaining the Consciousness principle with an example, Swamiji says:

  1. The light you experience on your hand is not part of the hand.
  2. It is not limited to the hand or by the hand.
  3. The light survives even after the hand disappears. The only difference is that when the hand is there; light is visible; and when the hand is removed; light continues but you are not able to see it.

This consciousness is called the Atma. Sri Krishna describes the six main features of the Atma:

  1. Atma is Nityaha or eternal.
  2. Atma is Satyaha, or it is reality that exists independently, while everything else depends on Atma.
  3. Atma is Sarvagathaha or it is all pervading. In body, it is contactable, when it is outside body, it is invisible.
  4. Atma is Aprameya or it is ever the Experiencer and never the Experienced. Anything experienced is Anatma. Atma is the Subject and not the object. Every photo proves the existence of the camera although the camera is not visible in any picture.
  5. Atma is Akarta and Abhokta. Atma does not do anything; as such it does not reap the results of any action. It is neither the Doer nor Enjoyer.

Atma is Nirvikaraha, meaning, free from all modifications of existence such as birth, growth, change, decay and death.

Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to recognize and claim this Atma as himself. Body and mind are incidental instruments, a gift from God. During sleep they are taken away temporarily. Later it will be taken away permanently. Knowing this truth claim the Atma as myself, says Sri Krishna. This is the permanent remedy to all life’s problems.

Shloka 39-58: Karma Yoga:
Atma is the subtlest and most difficult topic to comprehend unless one has a prepared mind. Sri Krishna wants to help people who have difficulty grasping Gyana Yoga. To them he recommends getting Gyana Yogyata through Karma Yoga. Swamiji compares it to a tutorial class. Essence of Karma Yoga is:

Proper Action+Proper Attitude=Karma Yoga
Proper action:  Actions are of three types. Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.

Satvic action is considered the best type of action. It is an action where beneficiaries are more. This is Nishkama Karma.  In performing such an action I take into account my family, village, society, world and environment. It is self less action.

Rajasic action is selfish action. I do not bother about society or world. The attitude that God will take care of it (when somebody is helpless) also comes in and it is thus fatalistic as well.

Tamasic action is when I benefit at the cost of others or society even causing harm in this process. It is a very selfish approach to action.

Proper Attitude: Whatever action I perform I should do it with love and sincerity, otherwise it is an insult to that action. Enjoy what you do. Learn to love the action. Even actions we do not like, we can learn to love them. Even the most menial action, do it well without worry for appreciation or reward. If I am doing it, I should do it properly. Do it as an offering to God. Every action, perform it as Ishwara Arpanam. Whatever be the consequences of my action (good or bad) take it as a prasada. This is karma Yoga.

Discussing benefits of Karma Yoga, Sri Krishna, says it is not a means for liberation. It, however, gives Gyana Yoga Yogyata Prapthihi. It gives the seeker the Sadhana Chatushthaya Sampathihi.

Shloka 54-72: Describes the Sthita Pragyaha.

He is one who has gone through Karma Yoga and Gyana Yoga. He is one who knows he is the Atma. He has assimilated the knowledge and converted it to emotional strength. Pragyaha is one who has the intellectual knowledge. Sthitha Pragyaha is one who has converted the knowledge to emotional strength. Sri Krishna discusses the following two topics related to Sthitha Pragyaha.

  1. How to become a Sthitha Pragyaha or Sthitha Pragya Lakshanani and
  2. How to convert this knowledge to emotional strength or Sthitha Pragya Sadhanani

By Sravanam and Mananam with the help of a Guru one can convert the Agyaha to Pragyaha. Now the pupil has to work at converting from Pragyaha to Sthitha Pragyaha. Here Guru cannot help; it is a lonely journey.

So how does one convert the knowledge to emotional strength? What are the tools or Sadhanani available?

The three mental exercises, Sadhanaini, prescribed by Sri Krishna are:


  1. Indriya Nigraha: Mastering the senses. Without this you have no control on what enters your mind. Without it your mind will be disturbed and cannot assimilate the teaching. Swamiji clarifies that suppression of senses is not a tool to be used.
  2. Mano Nigraha: Thought discipline. Many thoughts just come into us without asking and we have no control on them. Even with sense control thoughts do get in. Sri Krishna says, do not worry about arrival of thoughts, but once it comes in do not perpetuate them. Curb them at their source, especially the unhealthy one’s.
  3. Nidhidhyasanam: Dwelling on the teaching. Reading, listening, sharing the teaching with others are methods of Nidhidhysanam. Through this process the teaching gets assimilated. Thus, one becomes a Sthita Pragyaha.

Sthitha Pragyaha Lakshanani: What are the traits of a Sthita Pragyaha?  They are:

  1. Freedom from binding desires. I have only preferences, I can also do without them. I am also accepting of success or failure. All bindings are gone. Non-binding desires are harmless. and this is because of my self-sufficiency also known as purṇatvam. I do not miss anything in life.
  2. The second important trait of this assimilation is Samatvam or equanimity of mind, which means freedom from ragaha, bhayaha, krodhaha, etc. The turbulences caused by anger, fear, jealousy do not come to me.

Sri Krishna gives the example the ocean. Just as the ocean is ever full, irrespective of rain and irrespective of rivers merging into the ocean, so also is the Gyani. Therefore, purnatvam and samatvam are the main traits of a Sthita Pragyaḥa. And Sri Krishna concludes the chapter by saying that this Sthitha Pragyaha is a free bird, both in
life and in death. Wherever he goes he never faces any conflict. He enjoys freedom while living; he enjoys freedom after death, both as jivan muktih and videha mukthi.

With best wishes,
Ram Ramaswamy